Search This Blog

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Green Revolving Door

A number of posts have discussed the revolving door between government and interest groups. Timothy Carney writes at The Washington Examiner:
President Obama’s Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has left the administration and joined an electric bus company he subsidized and praised while in office.
Proterra Inc. makes buses that require no gasoline or diesel – they run on electricity and fuel cells.
According to a 2011 DOT press release, Proterra received a “$6.5 million research grant provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Transit Administration.”
On top of all this, LaHood's department subsidized Proterra through grants to municipalities that buy electric buses. These grants to local transit authorities cover 80 percent of the cost of a battery-powered electric bus.
In September 2012, for instance, the Worcester Regional Transit Authority in Massachusetts bought three Proterra buses with $4.4 million in DOT grants.
Most of Proterra's sales are subsidized. “The majority of transit agencies buy with federal funds, which cover about 80 percent of the cost,” explained Proterra Vice President Ian Shackleton in a company publication in March 2013.
On Feb. 18, Proterra announced that LaHood, who left DOT last year, was joining the company's board of directors. “LaHood's government experience and leadership in transportation policy innovation make him an excellent fit for Proterra,” the company said in a news release.
Federal ethics rules prohibit LaHood from lobbying for the time being, but they don't stop him from taking money from Proterra, publicly advocating for the company, or providing lobbying advice.